VST Faculty Book Launch

Book launch poster

Harry O. Maier: Picturing Paul in Empire, ( T&T Clark/Bloombury, 2013)

  • The book explores the relation of Paul’s letters to imperial politics. As such it belongs to a field of scholarship that over the past decade has taken up the political dimensions of Paul’s language. It considers the role of Paul’s vivid language and imagery in the task of persuading early Christians to follow the apostle’s teachings. In doing so, it relates that use to imperial images that were everywhere present in the Roman Empire. The book contains dozens of reproductions or Roman imperial images, in both colour and black and white, that were designed to express the benefits of the emperor’s rule. I argue that Paul drew upon those images which would have been seen by his listeners as part of their everyday life and “translated” them into texts to describe the benefits and achievements of Christ’s rule. This helped to make his teachings both understandable and persuasive, since the urban world that shaped Paul’s listeners celebrated the achievements of the emperor. Paul however reconfigured the daily visual experience of imperial rule shared his audiences by adapting imperial language and imagery to praise the achievement of Christ in his crucifixion. This was an important way that Paul helped to form communities of faith that centred on a set of values and practices that ran in many ways counter to the values and goals celebrated by Caesar’s rule. The book focuses on Colossians, Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles (1&2 Timothy and Titus), letters which are rarely discussed in “Paul and Empire” scholarship. These letters were probably not written by Paul, but represent later developments of his teachings by people writing in his name. The book debates the idea that Paul, either in his earlier letters or these later ones, was entirely opposed to the Roman Empire and rather seeks to promote a more nuanced perspective in which he is seen at once to resist and adapt to the values of the imperial order in order to achieve his ends. It outlines a model of doing social and historical “visual exegesis” of New Testament texts and relates the model to post-colonial, social geographical, and rhetorical studies. As such the book asks us as contemporary readers how we should live in our contemporary social and political order and how we should express our religious ideals and commitments to the world around us. What are the images we live by and how do they get in the way or help to promote abundant living both for us as individuals and for our world? How do they fit into the world around us and how do they help us as individuals and communities of faith critique the principalities and powers around us?

 

Sallie McFague: Blessed are the Consumers: Climate Change and the Practice of Restraint (Fortress Press, 2013)

  • “Blessed are the Consumers” is the most recent publication in Sallie McFague’s long career of writings in the area of religious language and ecological concerns.  Specifically, it sums up her work, spanning some nine books, by focusing on the lives of three “saints” (John Woolman, Simone Weil, and Dorothy Day) as models of living with restraint or self-emptying (kenosis). In a time of increasing deterioration of our planet and its creatures by climate change, we can see the lives of these people as living parables of fulfilment through the contradictory practice of “losing one’s life to save it.”  Their life-style holds clues for a public practice of restraint as a key element in personal and planetary flourishing.  Thus, this book sums up McFague’s life-long concern for the way metaphors and models, both in language and in lives, influence the way we act at all levels.  How we live and how we think are interdependent. As Saint Francis said, preach by actions and if necessary, by words.  What matters is how we ACT: the work of Sallie McFague focuses on how belief influences our actions, for better and for worse.  As philosopher Erich Heller reminds us, “Be careful how you interpret the world.  It IS like that.”

 

Sallie McFague: Collected Readings (Fortress Press, 2013)

  • “Collected Readings” is McFague`s  tenth book, one composed of excerpts from all her publications by Fortress Press  It starts with a afine overview by David Lott and consists in writings grouped by topics central to her personal and professional journey: the nature of religious language, metaphors and models, the doctrine of God, spiritual autobiography, and religion and the environment. It is an excellent introduction to her work, useful for college and seminary classes as well as for those seeking a sampling of her many books.

Gerald Hobbs, with Bernard Roussel, Yves Bizeul and Bruno Congar:  Leaders of Protestantism: John Calvin 1509 – 1564. In Graphic Format. (Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe,  2013)

  • An English-language adaptation of a French graphic biography of the famous Protestant reformer of France and Geneva, and founder of the modern Presbyterian and Reformed church traditions.  The twelve-page centre section is written to inroduce Canadian Presbyterian and United Church members to heir own tradition.  The edition was financed and published by St. Andrew’s Hall.

 

Gerald Hobbs, with Bernard Roussel, Yves Bizeul and Bruno Congar:  Leaders of Protestantism: John Calvin 1509 – 1564. In Graphic Format. (Strasbourg: Éditions du Signe,  2013)

  • An English-language adaptation of a French graphic biography of the famous Protestant reformer of France and Geneva, and founder of the modern Presbyterian and Reformed church traditions.  The twelve-page centre section is written to inroduce Canadian Presbyterian and United Church members to heir own tradition.  The edition was financed and published by St. Andrew’s Hall.

 

R. Gerald Hobbs & Annie Noblesse-Rocher, eds.:  Bible, Histoire & Société. Mélanges Offerts à Bernard Roussel  (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2013)

  • This is a collection of nineteen essays  contributed by former colleagues and students of Professor Roussel, on the occasion of his 75th birthday. The overall theme is the reading and interpreting of Scripture  within European church and society in the period of the Church Reformations  (approx.1500 – 1650). In addition to introducing and editing the collection, Profs. Hobbs and Noblesse each contributed an essay.

 

Patricia Dutcher-Walls: Reading the Historical Books: A Student’s Guide to Engaging the Biblical Text, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014)

  • Reading the Historical Books: A Student’s Guide to Engaging the Biblical Text Is a practical and lively guide to help readers enter into the world, history, and storytelling of the Old Testament. It helps answer the question: What do we need to know about the historical books in the Old Testament in order to appreciate their beauty and meaning? Modern assumptions about how one reads history, a novel, a text message, or a website may not bring the best awareness and assumptions when reading a text that is more than 2,000 years old. This small volume will help readers to engage history writing in the Old Testament in order to make their reading and study of Scripture informed and sensitive.